A New Way to Play Comes to Downtown Akron's Park East

Oct 20, 2019

A long-neglected park near downtown Akron has been refurbished and expanded as part of the ongoing Civic Commons project.

On Saturday, more than 100 volunteers gathered at Park East to install gleaming new swing sets, jungle gyms, and a new polypropylene surface for the decades-old basketball courts. The park is one of 12 around the country chosen this year by Washington, D.C.-based KaBOOM!, a non-profit dedicated to creating safe places for kids to play. It’s the tenth park they’ve refurbished in Akron in the past decade, but the first to incorporate an obstacle course. Sixth-grader Sa'Viona Finney says Park East used to be rundown and gray before the refurbishment.

“It will change the environment because it will bring more light around the neighborhood and make more

The project at Park East not only replaced decades-old equipment, it expanded the offerings and made the park bigger.
Credit KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

people come down here. It’s not going to be so drab down here. There’s going to be more colors like red, orange and yellow.”

Long-time resident Phyllis DeHart says – after putting in so much work -- she hopes people will return to play.

“I think this is a great motivational piece. I mean, how could it not be? It’s so beautiful. And just look at the people here and how engaged we are.”

Civic Commons aims to reimagine public spaces to bring people together from around the city. An Akron Parks Challenge grant raised part of the more than $300,000 for the project.